Marietta is no stranger to visits from famous folk
David McCullough didn’t just visit Marietta to announce his book, The Pioneers. He came to publicly embrace this community and the whole of the Northwest Territory and honor the pioneers who brought the American Ideal west from New England.
His public accolades to Marietta, Marietta College, the Special Collections department of the Legacy Library, and specifically Linda Showalter and staff were nothing short of high praise. He was impressed. He loved everything about his last three years of research and Marietta made a favorable and lasting impression.
On the other side of the equation, thanks to Mr. McCullough’s stature as an historical writer, Marietta has and will gain international attention perhaps not matched since the Rock Hudson movie release in 1957. We are going to become well known, famous even, in very short order. History buffs around the world will be drawn here to where it all began. That’s a good thing.
It seems we have a knack for drawing persons of influence and note to our corner of the world. Thanks in large measure to Marietta College we have had an impressive number of such people visit just in the time I have been paying attention. Though admittedly I have not taken notes to keep track.
Perhaps there are others out there who also are fascinated with the parade of persons who visit here. Mostly they come to talk though some to campaign and others to entertain. It might be of interest to begin to compile a list of such people.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is the name that seems to pop up instantly when I mention famous people who have been here. His visit predated my moving here by some years. Maya Angelou spoke but I did not see her in person.
I was present when Ted Turner at a lunch meeting at the Lafayette proposed that since all societies through history have used some kind of mind-altering substances that we should consider legalizing marijuana. The groan that went through the audience indicated he was about 30 years ahead of time. And perhaps speaking to the wrong audience.
Frankie Valli entertained without the Four Seasons but the Mummers came in full force to march in our bi-centennial parade. The Billy Taylor Trio ensemble came.
Most will remember that Bill Clinton breezed through Marietta with a brief stop at Third Street Deli. And George H. W. Bush rode The Valley Gem from Williamstown to Marietta during one of his campaigns.
Some may remember Phyllis Schlafley speaking here; fewer will remember David Horowitz. The crowd was much smaller. His presentation, though some time ago, is the only one I can recall where there was a visible sign of protection in the form of a dark suited gentleman across the gym floor. Even then there was awareness that perhaps not all views were welcome. How sad. A harbinger of things to come.
Jack Welch, Norman Mailer, Michelle Malkin and Nikita Krushchev’s son Sergei round out my list of easily recalled people of note. Who can add to this list with maybe a story or two about why you remember them and what impressions they left.
In the case of Mr. McCullough, his message of “be useful” was valuable for all of us. His reverence for the American Ideal strikes a chord of respect for what we hold dear as descendants of The Pioneers.